CONFIDENT YORKSHIRE Carnegie are determined to take a step closer to the Premiership tomorrow.
Carnegie have home advantage in the first leg of their Greene King IPA Championship semi-final against county rivals Doncaster.
The South Yorkshire club finished second in the league table, one point ahead of Carnegie.
The Leeds-based side won 27-20 at Headingley in October, but Doncaster were 34-28 victors in the return four months later – meaning Carnegie had a one-point advantage on aggregate.
A repeat of that over the next two games would see Bryan Redpath’s men into the promotion final and he said they are going into tomorrow’s huge game (3pm) in buoyant mood.
“Things are looking really good,” said the Carnegie boss.
“We have trained well the last four weeks.
“We have had one defeat in nine games. Even though that was in a final, we have learned lots over the past nine weeks.
“We know how tough this game will be. Doncaster have been the best side to get to where they are in the league –second – with little resources.
“They have probably fulfilled more things than anybody, but I see it as a massive opportunity for us.
“We lost the last game and won the one at home so it is one-all. They bullied us the last game so we have to make sure we are smart, not just physically, but mentally as well.”
Redpath insisted he is not surprised by how well Doncaster have done this season.
He said: “They are well-coached and the players have got confidence in each other.
“Clive [Griffiths] has done a great job there.
“They are a good side and we are aware of that, but we are more than capable of being a good side as well.
“We have to make sure we are good this weekend, followed by next week. We are in a good place.
“Our target was to get to the play-offs, we’ve done that, now let’s just crack on with it.
“We can’t play with any fear or expectation, we’ve just got to go and do what we can do and what we can control.
“If we do that and we do it really well for 80 minutes we can win probably any game.
“The opposition are going to try and stop us doing that, but we have just got to focus on ourselves and give it our best shot.”
Kevin Sinfield, who will return at fly-half tomorrow, has confirmed he is to retire at the end of the season, so it could be the former Leeds Rhinos captain’s final game at Headingley.
“I am really looking forward to it,” he said of tomorrow’s game.
“Doncaster are playing some really good stuff and they are a very good team, deservedly second in the league.
“It is a great challenge, but there’s no pressure on us. We want to play well and play tough as well.”
Chris Pilgrim will be at scrum-half alongside Sinfield. Jonah Holmes returns at full-back having missed the last four games of the regular season through injury. Andy Forsyth and Pete Lucock line up in the centres. In the front row, Charlie Beech and Rob O’Donnell return while Mike Myerscough joins Matt Smith in the second-row.
Ryan Burrows, who was this week named in the Championship team of the year, returns to captain the side at number eight.
Carnegie have completed the re-signing of fly-half Joe Ford from Sale Sharks, half-back Alex Davies from Ealing Trailfinders and centre and England Sevens player Alex Gray.
Yorkshire Carnegie: Holmes, Goss, Forsyth, Lucock, Prell, Sinfield, Pilgrim, Beech, J Walker, O’Donnell, Myerscough, Smith, Beck, Saull, Burrows. Replacements: Nilsen, Imiolek, Tideswell, Schofield, C Walker, Green, Hodgson.